Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributors Vortex Motio and Mattp55
“Now is the winter of our discontent” – William Shakespeare, Richard III
The final day of the second last pre-season test draw to a close today and as yesterday, it was led by the Mercedes powered cars and the Mercedes works team with Nico Rosberg obliterating the field and becoming the first driver to dip under the 1m33 mark, within a second of last year’s pole time. Jenson Button continued McLaren’s strong form ending the day second fastest but more than 1.6s back. New Ferrari driver Raikkonen ended the day third fastest, 0.2 seconds of Fernando Alonso’s best time but significantly 3.4s behind Rosberg. Williams’ new test driver Felipe Nasr managed 87 laps and ended his day 4th fastest, not bad for a rookie!
There were chinks in the Mercedes armour as two reliability issues arose today, ominously described by the team as not insurmountable.
It is still early and we can expect a lot of changes to come before the first race but bearing in mind the engines are homologated on the 28th February it looks like the Mercedes teams are the ones to beat. Having said that, Ferrari have yet to show their true qualifying hand so the Prancing Horse may be more competitive than they are giving out to be.
Renault powered team… when TJ13 reported from Jerez Renault are facing serious problems many thought The Judge have been spending too many late nights with a bottle (or 6) of Rioja. The truth is the only non Renault powered cars in the bottom of the timesheets are Marussia and Sauber, both powered by Ferrari, and both having their fair share of reliability problems.
This highlights how difficult it is to build a car without working closely with the manufacturer of the powertrain. The works Mercedes and Ferrari teams have had very few problems but it must be said that it appears the Mercedes powered teams, although not works, have been able to utilise all the expertise that came with their partnership with Mercedes and are capitalising on it.
Renault, not much to add. All their teams are struggling and while Caterham is probably the most reliable Renault team it is safe to assume we will not see many French powered teams at the sharp end of the grid for a while… quite a while.
Hope springs eternal, as Lotus finally managed some semblance of a normal lap count, 59 laps, while still managing to thoroughly interrupt Rosberg’s race simulation by breaking down right in the middle of it. A fine two-fer which will no doubt explain Maldonado’s joining of the Flat Earth Society as he proclaimed yesterday that as far as he was concerned Renault might very well have the best engine on the grid, “I think at some point they will be competitive or even better than Mercedes. I think they have good power in the engine – it is just a case of making it work all together. I am not very worried about the situation.”
Perhaps someone should explain to him that the Renault engines are currently running 30-35 kph less on the straights than the Mercedes’, and that is not a good thing with the engine freeze looming in the near distance and no immediate fix in sight.
And just to prove the contrast of opinion, the Toro Rosso in the hands of Jean-Eric Vergne only managed 19 laps before a serious engine problem put them out of action.
Speaking to reporters Vergne said they had “a major problem today” on the engine side but it is nothing new. He continues saying there is no point in talking negatively about it and although he says he is positive and he knows it will take time to resolve the issues. That Toro Rosso have built a good car is clear according to Vergne, but the lawnmower engine in the back, it’s holding back the STR9’s potential.
Misery loves company and Red Bull today had plenty of that with Marussia, Force India, Sauber (and Toro Rosso) all failing to crack the 20 lap barrier. Caterham did little better with 21 laps total between Ericsson and Kamui.
Boxes of parts were seen being delivered to Red Bull mid-day and though there were plenty of sounds of construction from the garage, not much action on track resulted from all the frantic work. Any port in a storm, and indeed there are now rumours of a B spec car circulating on the internet, such is the misery of Red Bull fans at the moment, though little evidence with which to back them up. Also rumoured (but without any evidence) is that Vettel’s name for his ride this year is thoroughly unprintable in respectable publications 😉
Still, the tragedy of the week might have to go to plucky Marussia who, having snuck one over on Caterham last season and then switched to Ferrari power at just the right moment, have taken all their momentum and completely blown it. Today compounded their disaster as they officially gave up post engine change on testing and instead decided to start shaking down parts for next week’s test.
Just as they emerged for the last ten minutes of testing, the circuit was red flagged and ultimately ended without them being able to test anything. In poker, there is such a thing as a bad beat, a hand you would always expect to win with, that doesn’t. Often, at the end of the night, players will vote and a consolation prize will be awarded to the person who suffered the worst indignity. If anyone truly deserves it for the week they’ve had, it’s Marussia no doubt.
The reason for the red flag, of course was courtesy of Ferrari, who had a fairly uneventful day for the most part, until 10 minutes to go in the session when Kimi Raikkonen decided to take Lewis Hamilton’s quote quite literally and spun his F14T hard into the Armco on the exit of turn 4 thus properly breaking the car and ending the session early.
And this is how the day ended.
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1m39.258s||+5.975s||19|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1m39.837s||+6.554s||15|
|8||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m40.472s||+7.189s||19|
|11||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Ferrari||No Time||5|
|12||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||No Time||5|
In summary, this is what we learned during the 1st test in Bahrain.
“We have to remember these days. I love you guys. We have an incredible team spirit. I’m so proud of you. I love you.” Sebastian Vettel’s radio to Red Bull on cool down lap of 2013 U.S. GP.
The concept of happiness in macro economics is attractive, but is unfortunately hard to measure. In Formula 1, measuring happiness is easier. If you’re winning, you’re happy.
Measuring happiness during a testing session is difficult, because it’s not a race, nor a qualifying session, it’s only a test session.vBut we know that each constructor, driver, and power unit manufacturer will have some overall simple goals. The teams and manufacturers want reliability, then speed. Drivers want seat time (getting acquainted time), then speed.
Today we review some indicators of happiness for each manufacturer, constructor, and driver after four fun filled days of testing in Bahrain.
Yesterday, we noted that Renault supplies one of the more reliable teams of this test, Caterham. So we focused on the performance deficit instead by highlighting the difference between the fastest Renault powered team of each day versus the fastest car of that day.
After four days, we see this:
|Test Day||Constructor||Manufacturer – Fast||Driver||Time Diff||%|
We can call this a sadness index, and it measures in the 4% to 5% range consistently. In F1 terms, it’s a very high level of sadness. Even Ricciardo’s 100 kW smile has seemed… strained.
For power unit reliability, today we have added a more accurate measurement that partially eliminates the skew from an outlier team:
|Engine Manufacturer||Total Laps||% of Mercedes||Avg laps / team / day||Median laps / team / day|
Note the last column, “Median laps per team, per day”. Median identifies the middle number and minimizes the outlier which skew an average. That is certainly the case here, as the Median reduces the skews of :
- Force India being less reliable than their Mercedes brethern
- Caterham being far more reliable than their Renault brethern
- And Marussia having no reliability whatsoever
Speaking of happiness and Marussia, let us review team reliability by counting 4 days of laps:
|Pos||Constructor||Engine Manufacturer||Total BAH laps||% vs Williams||Diff in laps|
The top 4 teams, Williams, Mercedes, McLaren, and Ferrari had a median of 306 laps, or 76 laps per day…. Happiness!That is a lot of numbers, so let us group these to make it simpler:
The middle 3 teams, Sauber, Caterham, and Force India had a median of 221 total laps, or 55 laps per day. Not bad…
If we let Marussia sit in the metaphorical garage for a moment, the remaining 3 at the bottom feature Renault’s top two teams, along with Toro Rosso. They ran a median of 116 total laps for the test, or 29 laps per day. Sadness!
Marussia… the team that ran an underpowered Cosworth and beat a Renault team in championship last year, has some high challenges at the moment.
Moving on to the driver’s perspective. Looking at these four days, a driver will want two things:
- Seat time to acquainted with the new machine
Because only one other driver is driving the same car, one way to measure driver happiness is to see if there is much difference in seat time between mates. It’s early days, as next week this will be more important. But if we look at a spread of 40 points, (or 40%) in number of laps between team mates, there are only three teams in that situation:
- Williams = Bottas ran 171 laps vs Massa’s 65 laps (44% difference)
- Lotus = Maldonado ran 85 laps vs Grosjean’s 26 laps (54% difference)
- Marussia = 21 laps vs 8 laps is too few to be relevant
At the end of the second week of testing it’s obvious to all that Mercedes and McLaren, followed by Ferrari and Williams are far ahead of the rest when it comes to their testing programs. It is also clear that Mercedes looks the frontrunner at the moment, though no doubt there is much to be revealed next week as the teams begin to get anxious to properly stress the cars and engines in order to be as ready for Melbourne as possible.
But Mercedes have ended the last 2 days with reliability problems, and we have likely not seen the best from Ferrari or Mclaren just yet, as well as having no idea as to what any of the Renault powered teams might be capable of should the engines finally come good. Roll on next week!